Background: The goal of antihypertensive therapy is to provide good blood pressure (BP) control without eliciting adverse effects.
Objective: This study compared the risk-benefit profile of the angiotensin II receptor blocker valsartan with that of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor lisinopril in patients with mild to severe hypertension. The primary objective was to show that the equipotent BP-lowering effect of the valsartan-based treatment is accompanied by a better tolerability profile.
Methods: This 16-week, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study was conducted at 88 outpatient centers across Italy. After a 2-week placebo run-in period, patients aged > or = 18 years with mild to severe hypertension (systolic BP [SBP], 160-220 mm Hg; diastolic BP [DBP], 95-110 mm Hg) were eligible. Patients were randomized to receive once-daily, oral, self-administered treatment with valsartan 160-mg capsules or lisinopril 20-mg capsules under double-blind conditions for 4 weeks. Responders continued monotherapy, whereas nonresponders had hydrochlorothiazide 12.5 mg added for the final 12 weeks of the study. The 2 primary variables used to assess the equivalence of therapeutic efficacy of the 2 regimens were sitting SBP and sitting DBP, which were measured at weeks 0 (baseline), 4, 8, and 16. The rate of drug-related adverse events (AEs) was used to assess whether 1 treatment had a better tolerability profile than the other. Tolerability was assessed by collecting information about AEs by means of questioning the patient or physical examination at each visit.
Results: A total of 1213 patients were enrolled (635 men, 578 women; mean [SD] age, 54.5 [10.1] years [range, 28-78 years]). The study was completed by 1100 patients (553 receiving valsartan and 547 receiving lisinopril). Fifty-one patients (8.4%) treated with valsartan and 62 (10.2%) [corrected] treated with lisinopril withdrew, mainly because of AEs (9 [1.5%] and 23 patients [3.8%], respectively). The valsartan- and lisinopril-based treatments were similarly effective in reducing sitting BP, with mean SBP/DBP reductions of 31.2/15.9 mm Hg and 31.4/15.9 mm Hg, respectively. At the end of the study, BP was controlled in 82.6% [corrected] of the patients receiving valsartan and 81.6% of those receiving lisinopril. AEs were experienced by 5.1% of the patients treated with valsartan and 10.7% of those treated with lisinopril (P=.0001), with dry cough observed in 1.0% and 7.2% of patients, respectively (P<0.001).
Conclusions: Valsartan and lisinopril were both highly effective in controlling BP in these patients with mild to severe hypertension, but valsartan was associated with a significantly reduced risk for AEs, especially cough.